Jen Kelly

It was his fluid, body hugging costumes that replaced the stiff traditional costumes of old

The year is 1994. Ireland is host to the Eurovision song contest and the event has induced a state of semi slumber in viewers across the land.

With the interval however the masses are jolted into cognisance as the Riverdance phenomenon is unleashed. No-one could have forseen the adulatory public reaction this five minute dance routine would muster.

Fashion designer Jen Kelly played no small part in this radical overhaul of the national dance for it was his fluid, body hugging costumes that replaced the stiff traditional costumes of old.

Born in Derry in 1960, the designer’s hand in the Riverdance costumes gave him his biggest break but Kelly had been designing for opera and television for some time. After working with RAI in Rome and Fox in Los Angeles he graduated with first class honours from the National College of Art & Design in 1986.

The designer now works from his painstakingly restored Georgian home on Dublin’s North Great George’s Street. The house's current air of rarified elegance couldn't be further away from its previous incarnation as home to some 26 families. The basement has been converted into a purpose built manufacturing and design space while the ground floor functions as the salon where clothes are shown and fitted.

Kelly is now recognised as one of Europe’s leading Haute Couturists, successfully showing his collections in New York and Japan. A permanent reminder of his contribution to Irish fashion can be seen in the form of a capsule collection on display in the Ulster Museum.